Skiing photography has brought us to some pretty epic places in the world. Maybe there’s a particular photo that inspires you to travel someplace new, or perhaps it’s just an image of a place you know well and dear that sparks something inside you.
Wherever it might be, the majestic environment always aims to deliver a stunning glimpse of winter in the mountains.
But for British artist Kimberly Kay, there tends to be an emotional detachment in the grandeur of such images.
“I think what gets lost a lot of the time is the feeling and the expression,” she said.
“It’s like people are there, with big jackets on and goggles cover the top half of the face. All that is sort of lost.”
Scenery tends to steal the show away from the emotions of the skiers and riders within the frames. That’s an aspect that Kay likes to try and discover in her skiing drawings, renditions that try to convey feeling instead of vistas.
Kay’s latest work, “Ski A-to-Z,” is an illustrated introduction to skiing that aims to “demystify” the world of skiing and make it more accessible to beginners. It was after presenting her drawings to others online that the idea for the book began to formulate. So, she took a course, pitched the idea, and…”I’m sitting here with a copy of it right in front of me,” she said. “It’s quite surreal.”
Kay started skiing when she was five years old on a dry ski slope in Lancashire. But it was during her family’s vacations to Mayrhofen in Austria that she truly discovered a passion for the sport. She wound up moving there and teaching children how to ski before sliding into a public relations career in the travel industry. But the artist in her kept calling.
“The artwork has always been there,” she said. “It’s a thing I might do for an hour on the weekend, when I got a chance.”
The opportunity for more drawing arose in 2020, when Warren Miller veteran Dan Egan noticed Kay’s artwork online. Egan got in touch with Kay via LinkedIn, and asked if she could provide illustrations for his forthcoming book, “Thirty Years in a White Haze.” (Editor’s note: Eric Wilbur is the co-author of the book.)
It was the first commissioned work she had done for skiing.
Her latest work has more than 100 illustrations, many of which depict the emotions of Kay’s subjects.
“I wanted to make those faces bigger and make them more of a thing,” she said. “It’s meant to be about them expressing the joy in skiing, the feelings that you feel. That was really important to me to try and unmask skiing and those emotions.”
Eric Wilbur can be reached at [email protected].